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January 14, 2010

HSUS Becomes Jack in the Box Shareholder

In an effort to encourage Jack in the Box (NASDAQ: JACK) to implement the types of basic animal welfare changes many of its competitors have made, The Humane Society of the United States announced Thursday that it has purchased stock in the restaurant chain.

The HSUS intends to use its stockholder position to move the company away from egg suppliers that confine hens in cages and pork suppliers that keep breeding pigs in crates. The HSUS will also encourage Jack in the Box to influence its poultry suppliers to switch from their current slaughter system—which involves shackling fully conscious birds upside down and running them through electrified water before cutting their throats—to controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK), which has been shown to greatly improve animal welfare.

Studies have shown that not confining animals in cages or crates, and that using CAK, may also improve food safety.

"Jack in the Box's complete lack of meaningful movement on animal welfare puts the company at odds with its competition and public opposition to farm animal abuse," stated Matthew Prescott, corporate outreach director for The HSUS's factory farming campaign. "And considering Jack in the Box's history with food safety problems, improving conditions on the factory farms that supply the company should be a top priority."

National restaurant chains— including Burger King, Red Robin, Wendy's, Quiznos, Denny's, Hardee's and Carl's Jr.—have already created policies to move away from supporting some of the worst abuses of farm animals. Many supermarket chains have taken similar steps, including Safeway, Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods.

San Diego-based Jack in the Box is not only lagging behind on these issues, but in 2009 it produced an animal welfare report that codified—rather than rectified—many of the worst cruelties that animals in its supply chain suffer. The company has 2,200 locations in nearly 20 states.

Facts

  • Food industry consulting firm Technomic found that animal welfare is the third-most important social issue to American restaurant patrons, outranking the environment.
  • About 95 percent of egg-laying hens and 70 percent of breeding sows in the United States are confined in cages and crates so small the animals can barely move for their entire lives. Extensive scientific research confirms this causes suffering.
  • Controlled-atmosphere killing has been shown to reduce suffering during poultry slaughter, and it is currently used to slaughter roughly 75 percent of turkeys and 35 percent of chickens in the United Kingdom. Seven U.S. turkey slaughterhouses use the method. 
  • Seven states, including most recently Jack in the Box's home state of California and Michigan, have passed laws to phase out the extreme confinement of certain farm animals.  

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at humanesociety.org.

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